The National Federation for the Blind has filed a complaint with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights charging that technology-based services at Pennsylvania State University lack access for blind students, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The complaint is broad-based and covers everything from the library catalog to course-management software. University officials said that they hadn't yet reviewed the complaint and so could not comment on it. The complaint comes at a time of increased scrutiny by advocates for the blind of technology services in higher education.
Higher Education Quick Takes
After five years without a single student suicide, the College of William and Mary has had three this year, leading to much campus discussion and new efforts to reach students who may be experiencing depression, The Washington Post reported. Much of the discussion focuses on the high standards students set for themselves, and fear that students who have been academically successful may not feel comfortable seeking help.
About 200 students have admitted cheating on a test for a senior-level business course at the University of Central Florida, The Orlando Sentinel reported. The cheating was so widespread that the instructor said students who admitted to their involvement before taking a re-test would not face normal punishments.
Alexander Kemos, who resigned as senior vice president of Texas A&M University after reports that he lied on his résumé, has admitted doing so, pleading guilty this week to a misdemeanor charge of using a fraudulent or fictitious degree, the Associated Press reported. He has been fined $2,000. Kemos falsely claimed to have had an advanced degree from Tufts University and to have been a Navy SEAL.
The majority of individuals in leadership positions of big-time college athletics programs and conferences remain white and male, according to a new study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. For example, all 11 conference commissioners in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are white men. In addition, there are only 14 “athletic directors of color” in the FBS, which has 118 member institutions. Still, the study did identify some signs of progress: "a record-high 15 head coaches of color led FBS teams at the start of the 2010 college football season."
The Community College League of California wants the state’s two-year institutions to award one million more certificates and degrees by 2020. The group of community college presidents says this ambitious pledge -- which it plans to roll out next week with a series of recommendations on how to get there -- constitutes California’s share of President Obama’s goal of producing an additional five million community college graduates in the coming decade. To reach the statewide benchmark, the group says each of the state’s 112 community colleges will need to boost its average annual completions from 1,200 to 3,500.
Laine Tadlock lost her job as director of an education program at Benedictine University because a local paper ran an announcement of her wedding to a woman, The State Journal-Register reported. Tadlock maintains that the Roman Catholic institution fired her, but university officials say that while they determined that she could not stay in her job, they offered her another one, which she declined. She maintains she wasn't qualified for the other job, but the university says that this means she resigned and was not fired. Tadlock was married in Iowa, which fully recognizes gay marriage. The university -- which has received backing from Catholic officials in the area -- said that it knew of her sexual orientation for some time, but that it could not employ her in her position after her wedding announcement noted her place of employment.
Maclean's is facing considerable criticism for an article suggesting that some top (white) Canadian students are avoiding certain universities for fear that they are "too Asian." The article relies on quotations from anonymous white students saying things like: "The only people from our school who went to U of T were Asian. All the white kids go to Queen’s, Western and McGill." (U of T refers to the University of Toronto, by any measure a top Canadian university.) The article also features some quotes from Asian students, who report on experiences such as this one at the University of British Columbia: “At graduation a Canadian -- i.e. ‘white’ -- mother told me that I’m the reason her son didn’t get a space in university and that all the immigrants in the country are taking up university spots,"
The article suggests that "the dilemma is this: Canadian institutions operate as pure meritocracies when it comes to admissions, and admirably so. Privately, however, many in the education community worry that universities risk becoming too skewed one way, changing campus life -- a debate that’s been more or less out in the open in the U.S. for years but remains muted here. And that puts Canadian universities in a quandary. If they openly address the issue of race they expose themselves to criticisms that they are profiling and committing an injustice. If they don’t, Canada’s universities, far from the cultural mosaics they’re supposed to be -- oases of dialogue, mutual understanding and diversity -- risk becoming places of many solitudes, deserts of non-communication. It’s a tough question to have to think about."
Many reader comments -- and some outside critics -- say that the article is promoting racist stereotypes, while others say that the article is bringing attention to an issue that needs public discussion. The (New York City-based) blog Jezebel ran a commentary on the article with the headline: "Yes, Calling a School 'Too Asian' Is Racist."
Stacey Franklin Jones is quitting as provost of Bowie State University today, only months after she started and a month after a faculty vote of no confidence in her leadership, The Montgomery Gazette reported. Faculty members said that they were excluded from decision making. A statement from the president, Mickey Burnim, praised Jones for "significant contributions."
A Canadian study concludes that immigrant students and what it calls "visible minorities" are less likely than are other students to drop out in their first or second year of college -- a finding that the researchers attribute to the fact that many white students in Canada are in college because of parental pressure. The study, by the Measuring the Effectiveness of Student Aid (MESA) Project, finds that among low-income students at Canada's colleges, 17.1 percent of "visible minority immigrants" drop out in the first or second year, compared to 25.5 percent for other students. At the country's universities, the dropout rates are 3.8 percent for immigrant minority students, and 9.6 percent for others. "Parental expectations for completing PSE are much greater for these students, and this could be driving the low dropout rates we observe," says the lead author, Ross Finnie of the University of Ottawa.